Daily Archives: August 15, 2012

(USA Today) 2012 Gas prices head for record levels

Gasoline prices are up sharply in the past month on surging crude oil costs and refinery woes, and now are likely to make 2012 the costliest year ever at the pump.

Nationally, gasoline averages $3.70 a gallon — up 30 cents since mid-July and is now higher than year-ago levels in 39 states. Prices are likely to continue climbing through August, with little relief until after Labor Day.

The swift, month-long, 9% price climb has lifted 2012’s average to $3.61 a gallon, vs. 2011’s $3.51, which had been the most expensive year ever for motorists. Even with demand expected to recede after the peak summer driving season, 2012 will surpass last year’s price, says Brian Milne of energy tracker Telvent DTN .

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General

Steven Ozment –In Euro Crisis, Germany Looks to Martin Luther

….rather than scour tarnished Weimar, we should read much deeper into Germany’s incomparably rich history, and in particular the indelible mark left by Martin Luther and the “mighty fortress” he built with his strain of Protestantism. Even today Germany, though religiously diverse and politically secular, defines itself and its mission through the writings and actions of the 16th century reformer, who left a succinct definition of Lutheran society in his treatise “The Freedom of a Christian,” which he summarized in two sentences: “A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none, and a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all.”

Consider Luther’s view on charity and the poor. He made the care of the poor an organized, civic obligation by proposing that a common chest be put in every German town; rather than skimp along with the traditional practice of almsgiving to the needy and deserving native poor, Luther proposed that they receive grants, or loans, from the chest. Each recipient would pledge to repay the borrowed amount after a timely recovery and return to self-sufficiency, thereby taking responsibility for both his neighbors and himself. This was love of one’s neighbor through shared civic responsibility, what the Lutherans still call “faith begetting charity.”

How little has changed in 500 years. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor, clearly believes the age-old moral virtues and remedies are the best medicine for the euro crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Globalization, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Michelle Boorstein–In an America with so many religions, what does religious freedom mean?

In the United States, Muslim women trying to maintain modesty should get female-only hours at the public pool, right? What about Wiccan troops who want a chaplain of their own, even if there are only a few thousand of them in the military? And Catholic business owners who believe that contraception is killing ”” should they have to provide it to employees, now that the health-care law requires that workers get it?

The debate over whether religious freedom is being threatened seems to have hit an apex, with the Catholic Church launching its biggest campaign in a generation against the contraception mandate. Even the presidential campaign is mixing it up; Mitt Romney’s latest ad asks, “When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?”

But the real question is: What does religious freedom look like? As America gets more religiously diverse, the concept is becoming harder to define….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Guardian Article accompanying Jeffrey John's newly edited Book Backing Same Sex Unions

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a “morally contemptible” policy on same-sex marriage, denouncing it for moving “in the opposite direction” to society and criticising Rowan Williams for changing his “public position” on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, writes that, by setting themselves against same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Church have prioritised the union of the Anglican communion over the rights of gay Christians.

“This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible,” he writes in an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian. “Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Guardian Publishes new Preface to Jeffrey John's Book Backing Same Sex Unions

The CofE has refused to countenance any form of official liturgical recognition for civil partnerships; has sought special exemptions from human rights and equalities legislation in order to continue discriminating against openly gay clergy or gay employees; has repeatedly restated its condemnation of all sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage; and has formally debarred even celibate gay clergy from becoming bishops.

Most recently, the bishops of the CofE have set themselves against government proposals to extend civil marriage to include same-sex couples. Their opposition is above all a public and political stance which is intended to maintain ecclesiastical unity, particularly within the Anglican communion. About half the world’s Anglicans are African, and the majority of them are in violently homophobic countries whose churches back harsh punishments against homosexuals, right up to the death penalty.

These are the Anglican provinces which the current policy is seeking to appease and keep on board, while the American and Canadian Anglican churches that now openly bless gay unions and consecrate gay bishops are condemned for daring to treat gay people equally.

Read it all.

Please keep comments on this thread focused on the content of the preface; thank you–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Secularism, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) For years, cars have got bigger and fatter””but now the trend is reversing

Like their owners, cars have been piling on the pounds in recent decades. When the Volkswagen Golf was launched in 1974 it weighed 0.75 tonnes and was 3.8 metres long. By 2008, when the mark six Golf was launched, its weight had soared by more than 50% and it had stretched by 38cm. Apart from making their cars roomier, motor manufacturers have added all sorts of gadgets and safety devices and each of these has meant a gain in weight. Finally, however, the pressure from regulators to make cars more fuel efficient, and the rising cost of materials are combining to make carmakers slim down their models.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Travel

R. Catholic Church argues that Scottish Govt bill redefines marriage and threatens religious freedom

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has written to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning her that she risks destroying religious liberty in Scotland by insisting upon legalising same-sex ”˜marriage.’

The cardinal’s letter notes the bishops of Scotland are ”˜deeply disappointed’ that the Scottish Government decided to proceed with its plans to re-define marriage two weeks ago ”˜especially because the government simply ignored its own consultation.’

That consultation ”˜returned a result of two to one against the redefinition of marriage, showing quite emphatically that there was little will for the legalisation of same-sex ”˜marriage’ among those who responded to the consultation,” the cardinal writes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Scotland

(Washington Post) In downward-spiraling Europe, rate of ”˜economic suicides’ explodes

In Greece, which is in its fifth year of recession, such suicides have sparked violent clashes between police and those opposing austerity who have held the victims up as martyrs. In Italy, widows of businessmen who have committed suicide ”” such as builder Giuseppe Campaniello, who set himself on fire outside a government tax office in Bologna on March 28 after his company collapsed ”” have held demonstrations. And in Ireland, where citizens are jumping off quays in Dublin, Cork and Limerick in alarming numbers, the mobile telephone company Vodaphone volunteered to give up the stadium advertising space it bought at soccer and hurling games for a suicide prevention campaign.

So many people have been killing themselves and leaving behind notes citing financial hardship that European media outlets have a special name for them: “economic suicides.” Surveys are also showing increasing signs of mental stress: a jump in the use of antidepressants and illicit drugs, a rise in depression and anxiety among workers worried about salary cuts or being laid off, and an increase in the use of sick leave due to psychological problems.

“People are more and more uncertain about their future, which is leading to a sharp rise in mental health problems,” said Maria Nyman, director of Brussels-based Mental Health Europe, a multinational coalition of mental health organizations and educational institutions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Robert Munday–A Random Thought about Mormonism

Each summer for the past several years I have spent some time witnessing to Mormons. This necessarily involves some apologetics, which is not a part I particularly relish. These days I am content being a teacher, not a debater. But I am still just as passionate for truth.

I was reflecting this evening that while there is abundant external corroboration for the authors of the Biblical books, especially the New Testament, being historical persons, there is absolutely no external evidence for the existence of any of the authors of the various books contained in the Book of Mormon. Mormons will counter that these “prophets” lived in the ancient Americas, not the Greco-Roman world, but that does not eliminate the problem that, unlike the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, there is no documentation anywhere outside the pages of the Book of Mormon that the figures contained in it (and the purported authors of its various books), as well as the church and civilization in which they supposedly lived, ever existed.

In contrast, the writers of the New Testament were known by and attested to by numerous witnesses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Mary the Virgin

O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thine incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, who dost call thy servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown: Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing whither we go, but only that thy hand is leading us, and thy love supporting us; to the glory of thy name.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch’orus, and Nica’nor, and Ti’mon, and Par’menas, and Nicola’us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

–Acts 6:1-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

U.S. March for Life founder Nellie Gray passes away

One of the leading lights of the pro-life movement in the United States has gone out. Nellie Gray, the charismatic octogenarian founder of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the largest annual pro-life event in the country, passed away over the weekend, and was discovered in her apartment earlier today.

Gray, who was once described by Cardinal Sean O’Malley as the “Joan of Arc” of the pro-life movement, was an ubiquitous figure at the pro-life march every year, her slight frame standing at the podium at stage centre, introducing the many luminaries who addressed the crowd of several hundred thousand during the rally before the march.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Zenit) Washington State Roman Catholic Bishop Guides Voters in Defending Marriage

Attached to the bishop’s letter was a series of points as to why voters should consider repealing the law under Referendum 74. Stating that the new marriage law does not expand but redefines marriage in terms of a relationship between two people, the American prelate stated that such a change would cause marriage to lose its unique identity.

Another matter of concern was that a redefinition of marriage would inevitably lead to a redefinition of parenthood. The letter cited examples of similar laws passed in Spain and Canada, where traditional designations such as “mother” and “father” have been replaced with either “Parent 1 and Parent 2” or “Progenitor 1 and Progenitor 2.”

Words matter, Bishop Cupich stated, “especially words like mother and father, which have real depth and meaning. We lose a great deal when they are substituted by terms and designations not otherwise used. They are strange to the ear, but they also fail to convey what fathers and mothers each bring as male and female to the critical task of generating, rearing and educating their sons and daughters.”

Read it all and please take the time to read the full text of Bishop Blase Cupich’s letter.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain, State Government